By: Jessica Shorten
CONROE, TX - More details have come in regarding the arrest of Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Darren Hess on Monday afternoon after a warrant was issued out of a TCOLE investigation.
Hess was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on Monday afternoon under the charge of Tampering with a Government Record with Intent to Defraud/Harm. Hess bonded out of custody late that same afternoon on a $1,500 bond.
According to the sworn complaint filed with the Montgomery County District Clerk’s Office, Hess failed to complete a Radiological/Nuclear Detection Team Operations training; and then received a completion certificate procured by the Program Manager, which was forwarded to TCOLE as proof of completion.
The four-day class was held in July, 2021; and three full-time Montgomery County Fire Marshal employees who were also present for the training confirmed Hess did not attend at least one full day of the course, and did not attend for the “post-test” required to receive the certificate of completion.
The Program Manager, who remains unnamed in the complaint, admitted to being a 15-year friend to Hess. Allegedly, the Assistant Project Manager took to post-test for Hess, and the Program Manager created the certificate of completion from previous certificates issued.
“The Program Manager admitted that he made a certificate of completion for Hess using documents previously provided to him by [Counterterrorism Operations Support]. He emailed the certificate to Hess and Bates on 8/13/2021,” according to the sworn complaint.
The Program Manager then sent the file, titled “Certificate of Completion PER-318-Hess.pdf”, to Hess. Hess claims in the affidavit that the Program Manager had told him he took the post-test for Hess, but Hess stated he “thought the Assistant Program Manager was joking.”
However, when Hess received the certificate file in e-mail, he claims he did not open the document, and just forwarded it to Kevin Bates, the Assistant Fire Marshal, to be submitted to TCOLE. When, TCOLE investigators requested a copy of the file containing all the certificates, they noted Hess’s was different looking that the other certificates of completion.
Hess was arrested at the MCOHSEM building. The Montgomery County Gazette reached out for comment, but he declined to at this time.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office referred all inquires to the Texas Commission On Law Enforcement (TCOLE). The Montgomery County Gazette has reached out to TCOLE, but no response has been received at this time.
You can view the full sworn complaint here.